How to Dine Outdoors Safely Amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic

Patrons at Zum Schwarzen Kameel in Vienna

By Paul Riegler on 27 July 2020
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Many restaurants across the country are reopening, albeit with outdoor dining only, while others are opening their dining rooms as well in cities that permit it.

Experts say that dining outdoors is better and safer, because the risk of infection is far higher in indoor spaces, due to insufficient ventilation.

The most important aspect of the dining experience in terms of safety, however, is how employees and diners comport themselves, especially when it comes to following safety protocols that have become a standard amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Before sitting down at a restaurant, diners should make sure that all staff members are wearing masks.    Make sure tables are suitably distant from one another and, finally, when being seated, make sure that the table is not downwind from others.  In other words, imagine for a moment that cigarette smoking were still allowed and choose a seat where air circulation wouldn’t send second-hand smoke in your direction.   Diners themselves should have masks on when they are not seated at a table eating or drinking.

Bars are a different story altogether.  In addition to the fact that drinking alcohol tends to lower people’s awareness about social distancing and wearing masks, people at bars tend to stand and move around more. They also frequently shout over the din.  All of these things release aerosols into the air that could contain the coronavirus and could then go on to infect others. Experts have found that the virus is mostly transmitted via these aerosols when people cough, sneeze, yell, or even just talk.

Many people who go to a restaurant eventually need to use the W.C. there and using a public restroom increases the risk of infection.  Both the flushing of a toilet and the use of a hand dryer can cause air movement and experts recommend limiting occupancy in a public restroom to one at a time and using paper towels to dry one’s hands.

If you do decide to go out and about and enjoy a meal outdoors at a restaurant, be sure to maintain distance from others, keep your face mask on when not eating or drinking, and wash your hands frequently.

On the other hand, perhaps making your own picnic lunch and going to an uncrowded area of a park might be an equally enjoyable and far safer idea.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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